Major publications began releasing preseason college football rankings on Wednesday, and at least one outlet predicts Air Force will start 2020 where it left off in 2019.
CBS Sports ranked the Falcons at No. 23 in its initial rankings — the same spot Air Force finished in the coaches’ poll in its 11-2 campaign this past season.
The Sporting News also released Top 25 rankings Wednesday, leaving the Falcons off its list.
Air Force closed the 2019 season with eight consecutive victories, a winning streak that trailed only national champion LSU’s 15-game run. The Falcons' only losses came on the road against Boise State and Navy, teams that also finished in the Top 25 and joined Air Force in CBS Sports’ preseason rankings.
Boise State is scheduled to visit Falcon Stadium on Sept. 12, while Navy will be in town Oct. 3 — assuming the season is played as planned.
The Falcons return much of their core, including two-year starting quarterback Donald Hammond, 1,000-yard tailback Kade Remsberg, fullback Timothy Jackson, a pair of offensive linemen in left guard Nolan Laufenberg and left tackle Parker Ferguson, who are ranked by Pro Football Focus among the top eight returning linemen in the country. Also returning are leading tackler Demonte Meeks and multiyear starters Tre’ Bugg (cornerback), Jordan Jackson (defensive end) and Lakota Wills (outside linebacker).
“There’s talent all across the board everywhere,” Hammond told The Gazette during spring practice in February. “Next year’s going to be really exciting.”
The Falcons finished the season ranked No. 22 by The Associated Press and were among seven teams from the American Athletic, Mountain West and Sun Belt conferences in the final poll.
The preseason polls, as is often the case, were less open to ranking teams outside of major conferences.
The Sporting News included only Cincinnati (No. 20), Central Florida (24) and Boise State (25) among teams outside the Power Five conferences in its rankings. Athlon Sports released its rankings on May 20 and did not rank Air Force in its Top 25 and also had just Cincinnati, Central Florida and Boise State in its list.
The CBS Sports poll was far more inclusive for the Group of Five, including Memphis (No. 16), Appalachian State (19), Navy (20), Cincinnati (21), Boise State (22) and the Falcons (23) in its Top 25.